Disclaimer: If they were mine, the series wouldn’t just be implied shonen-ai in certain bits… trust me... not mine
Genre: Angstish, bit of drama… um… yeah
Pairing: None really, heavy Fuji/Tez friendship… imply all you want though…ok and I’m willing to admit shonen-ai hints too…*grumbles*
Summary: What’s behind a smile…?
Warning: Episode 36 spoiled if you haven’t already seen it. This is an extremely Fuji centric chapter, but trust me, it’s needed. Angst, revenge, brotherly spat… la la la
It wasn’t just retribution because of his brother, it was the fact that Mizuki seemed to have no problem with sacrificing a teammate to win. Fuji made his way onto the court, mind seething with thoughts, all of them threatening to overwhelm him. He had to exert control over himself, had to make himself calm down enough to think rationally.
Cerulean eyes scanned the court and the surrounding areas, a slight frown crossing his face as he noted the lack of people there. It wasn’t that no one was there. There were the two schools and their respective hangers on, and a few other interested parties, but it just wasn’t enough for what Fuji wanted.
As they stood in front of the umpire, Fuji found himself smiling. He had an idea, and a way he could go about it. Although, he was fairly sure he might make a few people actually believe what was happening, it was a sacrifice Fuji was willing to make.
Standing opposite Mizuki at the net, Fuji’s eyes peered out from behind tawny lashes. The handshake, the habitual handshake; there was no force in heaven or hell that would move him to giving that…boy… his hand. Just a fraction of space remained before their skin would touch, and Fuji withdrew his hand. Raising his chin slightly as the wind blew his hair, he opened his eyes.
He let all of his annoyance, frustration, anger; the pure disdain showed in his eyes. The one time he didn’t feel that he had to hide his eyes lest they show how he truly felt, because he wanted Mizuki to know… to understand when his downfall came.
There was an arrogance, a cockiness about the other boy that made Fuji’s hackles stand on end. Those smug eyes, that superior smile. Fuji would do more than knock them off that haughty face, he’d crush them until there was nothing but humiliation left.
And so the match began. Fuji served first. His shot wasn’t weak and it wasn’t his best. On the surface it showed things about him, allowed others to see a style of tennis, but on the underneath it was nothing like him at all. It was an illusion, Fuji’s illusion. Never let a potential enemy see where your true self lies, and to Fuji, almost everyone was a potential enemy.
It was easily returnable, and it let Fuji gauge his opponent’s own strengths. The return was strong and confident, but only because Mizuki presumed that Fuji would not be able to reach it. It was hard to resist reaching out for it, hard to resist playing to simply crush. But crushing wasn’t enough, and Fuji wasn’t one to rush if biding his time could get him what he wanted in a more satisfying way.
Fuji was losing, but it didn’t matter. That was the plan, after all. He shut out the murmurs he could hear, shut out the disappointment he could feel emanating from so many of the lookers on, and concentrated on what he was doing. With every ball that Mizuki hit, Fuji read him. He read the way the other boy moved, the timing with which he swung his racket, and the choice of shots that he made.
He watched for signs of weakness, and saw that Mizuki relied quite heavily on the fact that he thought he knew how Fuji played. Syusuke had to suppress a smirk. No one knew how Fuji played; not Inui, not Ryuzaki-sensai…not even Tezuka. Whatever made Mizuki think that he knew Fuji’s strengths and weaknesses, stemmed from pure arrogance.
The only thing that Fuji couldn’t quite shake, was the slightly concerned eyes Tezuka was resting on him. He knew his friend could see that he wasn’t actually losing, that he had something up his sleeve. But Fuji couldn’t spare time for that, not if he wanted to do what he’d set out to do.
The crowd around the court was growing, and it made Fuji smile, despite himself. People were so predictable. Coming to see the Seigaku prodigy get thrashed, they played right into his hands. The score was getting to a stage that he would have to make his move and as the umpire called five games to love in Mizuki’s favour, the prodigy flexed his hands.
Change of sides was called, and as Fuji walked past his opponent, he suddenly felt the need to just make sure that he’d been right.
“Mizuki.” He waited for some sort of response of from the other, and the grunt was enough of one for him. “I’m going to ask this just in case. Did you teach Yuuta the Twist Spin Shot even though you knew the damage it’d do to his shoulder?” He waited, almost hoping that he’d been wrong.
That voice was calm, cool and full of self-righteousness. “Winning’s the most important thing. To me, there are casualties to victory.”
It was all Fuji needed to hear, in fact, it was what he wanted to hear. He reached into his bag and retrieved his golden racket. A calm washed over him as he zoned himself into playing mode. Perhaps it wasn’t the type of serious mode Tezuka meant when he asked him to play seriously, but it was a type of serious that Fuji could manage easily… especially under circumstances like these.
Fuji decided he’d had enough warming up.
Mizuki served, and Fuji focused. He could see that cocky grin, assuming that the prodigy wouldn’t make it to the ball in time. A slight increase in tempo was all Fuji needed in order to arrive at the ball in time. He almost laughed at the other boy’s response.
Mizuki’s face was shocked. “No way… That was supposed to go to your weak side.”
As the wind blew, Fuji felt recharged, as if something was laughing with him. “That shot just now was aimed at my stronger side.”
The black haired boy’s eyes were full of shock and confusion. He reacted badly; trying everything he could conceive of, placing shot after shot, expecting that he would find a weakness somewhere. Bewildered mutterings could be heard from the other side of the court. “Why’s this happening? They were all to his weak side.”
It was all Fuji could do to keep from laughing, and he decided he could afford to be smug himself. Smile back on his face, he stood up straight, looking directly at the other boy. “Weak side? They were all to my forte.”
Fuji didn’t leave enough time for the realisation to sink in for too long. He wanted Mizuki to suffer, wanted all of those people standing around the court to witness that humiliation. The boy deserved to be laughed at, he deserved to have that confidence crushed.
With every shot he placed, Fuji’s mind screamed within its confines. It wasn’t just the fact that Mizuki had taught his brother that shot, although it was a large part of his reasoning. The fact was, that the St. Rudolph manager was unscrupulous. He had no care for what damange he might cause anyone, whether it be an opponent or a team-mate. All the other boy cared about was winning, and it was something Fuji couldn’t agree with. There was so much more to life than winning.
And still, he could feel Tezuka watching him, brown eyes slightly disapproving behind those glassed. It was a disapproval that no one else there would give Syusuke, because no one else knew him as well as Tezuka did. No one else realised Fuji had planned it this way.
Every shot he placed was almost impossible for the other boy to reach. It made Mizuki look incompetent, and that was exactly what Fuji wanted. You didn’t play god in people’s lives without consequences… at least not people Fuji cared about.
The other boy failed to score even one more point. Adrenaline pumped through Fuji, it rejuvenated him, made him feel. This wasn’t a side of himself that he liked, and it wasn’t a side that he let out often. Sometimes though, sometimes he felt it necessary, and other times it got out of control. He refused to think just what time this one was.
Seven straight games later, Fuji stood victorious. Score: Seven games to five. He watched dispassionately as the other boy’s racket fell from his fingers, and with something almost akin to scorn as Mizuki fell to his knees with a long, loud cry. Moving forward, Fuji let his shadow fall over the other boy.
Mizuki looked up, humiliation and defeat in his eyes, along with something that looked almost like anger. “ You bitch! You lost 0 – 5 at the start on purpose! Playing me like that…”
Fuji bit back the retort on his tongue, he bit back that Mizuki should shut up and take his own medicine, and instead only said one thing. Eyes open and voice filled with disdain, he spoke low so that only Mizuki would hear. “Thank you for taking care of my brother.”
The other boy stayed on the ground, eyes focusing on his hands. There was utter defeat in that posture, and a bewilderment that almost made Fuji regret what he’d done, but he refused to… even if the weight of Tezuka’s gaze spoke of slight disappointment. There was no pain, Fuji refused to give into it.
He let the other congratulate him, let himself be group hugged, and photographed, while inside he was in turmoil, suddenly not feeling all that good. His smile returned belatedly, its familiar feeling welcomed. But he couldn’t seem to shake the sense that Tezuka wasn’t impressed, because the older boy didn’t come anywhere near him after the match.
Never one to let things bother him, Fuji was surprised that he felt so… lost without that presence next to him. So he concentrated on persuading Yuuta to come home and have dinner with their mother, sister and him. It wasn’t so much persuasion as it was coercion. He knew Yuuta would give in eventually, even if it were just to get Syusuke to shut up.
Fuji sat at the table with his siblings and mother. It was rare that the entire family could eat together, rare enough that his mother was actually home. He still didn’t feel too good, but was happy that he’d managed to convince Yuuta to come home. The genuine smile on his mother’s face was enough to make Fuji down a few mouthfuls of food even though his stomach was rebelling.
The talk centred on the tennis tournament, and it was all Fuji could do to steer the conversation away from the fact that his school had won, and that Fuji himself had too. He tried, and after a while succeeded, to turn the conversation to Yuuta’s much improved game. It was the least he could do…to at least give Yuuta the recognition he deserved at home.
As it got later, Fuji’s mood didn’t improve. He could see the sky growing dark outside, and not just dark with the coming of nighttime, but dark with storm clouds. Idly, he wondered why the day was going to have such a… dismal end.
He didn’t have to wait long to find out. As he came down from finishing off a piece of homework he’d forgotten about, and made his way to the living room, Yuuta stopped him at the steps.
Grey eyes locked onto cerulean, searching for something. There was nervousness in them, as if Yuuta was going to say something he usually wouldn’t, something that would embarrass him. Fuji just let him have the time he needed to gather himself to speak, knowing that his younger brother had a gruff way with words, and difficulty saying anything where that way was not appropriate.
“Brother…” Yuuta seemed to be struggling. “I want to thank you… for… I didn’t realise… about my shoulder.”
Fuji smiled. “I know…and it’s okay.” It almost made Fuji feel warm almost made up for the fact that he hadn’t spoken to Tezuka since the match.
But then Yuuta spoke. “It’s not okay.” Those grey eyes flashed with something like anger, barely contained at that. “What you did was wrong!”
The younger boys voice was getting louder with each word, and Fuji took an involuntary step back, not quite understanding. When he was enlightened, he wished he hadn’t been.
“What you did was cruel! Did you enjoy tearing down someone? You could have beaten him in six straight games…”
Fuji blinked, smile frozen in place so hard that he couldn’t budge it, and he knew it would make him seem even more heartless, maybe it would be right. He had no idea how his voice managed to sound so serene, so matter of fact when he spoke. “He hurt you, he’d hurt anyone. I…”
But Yuuta wasn’t about to let him finish. “He’s my friend, brother. You didn’t need to go to extremes. It was uncalled for.” And still the voice grew louder, at least to Fuji’s ears. “You were cruel, downright cruel.”
“Yuuta! Syusuke!” Their mother appeared at the living room doorway, hands on hips. “Stop it. Right now.”
Yuuta managed to look contrite and mumbled a “Yes, mother.”
Fuji couldn’t, he just blinked again and clung to the smile, because he had to. If he let go of it now, he’d crumble and he had no idea how to pick himself back up. So he smiled even more. “I’m going for a walk.” It was all he said, the only words he could squeeze past that lump in his throat.
He just knew that he needed to get out, and needed to be gone right then. He might have heard Yuuta call after him not to go; that it was raining, but part of Fuji thought that was just wistful thinking.
Syusuke didn’t register the cool water as it broke away the last of his smile. All he heard was the closing of the door, allowing him to let go of the last vestiges of his defences, because outside, no one would see him.
Bear with me… this chapter had to happen for the next chapter to be able to exist!
Reviews loved lots!!!!